Wednesday, March 1, 2017

MystiCon 2017 ~ Population: 1,500

I've been going to MystiCon for three years now -- not long in the grand scheme of things, as I can tell just how much of a MystiCon 'family' there is and what a deeply-rooted feeling there is for both the event and its locale.

MystiCon takes place at a relatively small hotel: Roanoke's Holiday Inn Tanglewood. I only ever stayed in the hotel itself my first time there, and in subsequent years I've been at overflow hotels because it sells out fast. And if 1,500 seems like a small size (that's their cap) -- it doesn't feel small in the hotel. Despite it being smaller by the numbers than just about any other con I've been to, during its peak hours it's a bustling, lively experience, full of fans and cosplayers.

We were back promoting for (Re)Generation Who and PotterVerse this year thanks to the kindness of the con chairs. One thing I tend to notice at MystiCon is that, while it may have a lower head-count, the really engaged fans coming to the table often outnumber the ones at larger cons. There are also a lot more complete families on hand: couples with small children, parents with strollers, groups of siblings cosplaying together.

Honestly, being an only child by nurture rather than nature (I have four half-sisters but was raised on my own), I sometimes need a reminder of what cons of different types are like for family units of more than one. And I saw that in spades this weekend. It was a good 'note to self' for me on why smaller, more intimate cons are such a treat for families. Even if one does go roaming off to check out a vendor table for a moment, they aren't going to be lost to the four winds.

As someone with my roots in anime cons, I was also glad to see that anime fans felt safe representing in their costumes. I've been to many sci-fi events where anime fans -- especially younger ones -- wanting to show off cosplay get told by older fans that this isn't 'one of those' cons (or, if not told directly, are talked about behind their backs). But fortunately there was room for everything from a vintage Barbarella to this adorable Rem and Ram I spotted over dinner. There was even an incredibly awesome Undertale group making the rounds.

Honestly, the only down side of working tables at cons is I don't get to experience the programming. But I do know what goes on there, as I have friends who are quite engaged, and one thing I always love hearing about (and swear I will get to one day) is their Independent Film Festival. I'm delighted to see them working hard to show and reward the work of up-and-coming creators, and I've seen just how much a recognition from MystiCon can mean to someone trying to get their work out there.

Also fantastic for me was the presence of the Roanoke Valley Whovians, a local group who ran a full track of Doctor Who-based programming from their room. They even had a mini-cosplay of their own with some really fabulous entries.

I'm not gonna lie -- Roanoke is a trek for me. And if I hadn't been assigned to work the Onezumi Events table for it, I might never have gone in the first place. But I'm glad I have. It's friendly, cozy, and has fantastic programming for both fans and creators. I'm glad they're sticking around, and I hope they continue to allow us to work our table magic there for quite some time.

For more cosplay photos from the event, check out the Facebook pages for (Re)Generation Who and PotterVerse.